July 2007

Salary History

by Evil HR Lady on July 31, 2007

I have an HR person (probably not evil) insisting that I must provide my salary at each previous employer so they can do a background check before I start. This is all after I’ve already accepted a written job offer (they asked me to complete an application at the same time they sent me an offer).
I went a head and provided the info because I want the job, but it just strikes me as unnecessary and inane.
Any comments?
Texas Boy

It would be unnecessary if all your fellow job seekers weren’t a big pack o’ liars. People lie about their titles, their salaries, the companies they work for, their level of responsibility and their degrees (or lack thereof).

So, unfortunately, companies have learned that they cannot trust what a candidate says.

As a matter of fact, the next question I’m going to answer is about a person who “made a mistake” on their resume.

And if your HR person isn’t at least slightly evil, you probably don’t want to work there. I mean, policies that make sense? Career development? Benefits you actually need? Bah! Who needs it?


Tag, Tag, Tag

by Evil HR Lady on July 31, 2007

I’ve been tagged. Repeatedly. First by Stephanie Black, then by Simon Meth, the Career Encourager and by Deb.

Stephanie’s tag was different than the others, so I will combine. She wanted to know, among other things, what I was doing 10 years ago. Well, this was the summer between undergrad and graduate school. I was working for a pickup truck accessories company, processing orders. I sure learned a heck of a lot about truck bumpers.

Everyone else wants to know 8 random things about me. (Well, not really. What they really want to know is can they have one of the brownies in my picture. The answer is no. They have been eaten.)

1. I already played this game here. Do you people read my blog? :>) (see the smiley face–I love you all!)

2. I am currently wearing an old lady flowered bathrobe procured from Walmart for $5. It’s horrendous and I purchased it with the intent to destroy it shortly after it’s primary purpose ended, but the Offspring loves it, so I wear it.

3. I cannot hoola-hoop worth beans.

4. Someone contacted me about writing an article for her medical newsletter and I said yes and then I lost the e-mail. If that was you, e-mail me again! evilhrlady at hotmail dot com.

5. If I had grad school to do over again, I’d do an OD degree. I’m glad I did the degree I did because that was how I met my husband, but I wish I knew more about Organizational Development.

6. I got my official PHR scores and I got 91%, thank you very much.

7. I have two degrees in political science and I can no longer stand politics. Right now I can’t stand to hear about any of the presidential candidates, let alone support one. Don’t they have other jobs? I mean, especially the ones who are currently holding elected office. Shouldn’t you be working? If someone from my company were running for president, I’d be having a sit down meeting with him about his excessive absenteeism and offering him the chance to resign.

8. I have about 100 first cousins. My husband has 2. I have more siblings than he has cousins.

I’m not going to tag anyone else because I am just that evil. Happy Tuesday!


The Definitive Job Hunt

by Evil HR Lady on July 30, 2007

Rowan Manahan has started a new writing project called the Definitive Guide to Clearing Job-Hunt Hurdles. I’m happy to be a part of it. I’ll post links to the other articles as well.

I have two things to disclose.

  • I hate job hunting
  • My area of expertise is more on the firing side than the hiring side.
  • Okay, firing is a bit dramatic. Mostly I do layoffs. This technically means that the position is being eliminated and it’s nothing personal. Of course, it doesn’t feel like it’s not personal when you are the person being told, “it’s not you, it’s the company.”

    Truth be told? In most cases you can avoid being laid off by getting the right job in the first place. In some cases you can do everything (and I do mean everything) right and still get laid off. That’s just pure bad luck and I’m really sorry about it. It happens to the best of people and it really stinks.

    But let’s try to approach your goal of not getting laid off from the job search angle.

    First, research the companies you are applying to. What is their history of layoffs? How is their stock (if they are public) doing? If you apply to a company that is in a downward spiral, don’t be surprised when you are kicked out the door a year or so later.

    Second, find out what your proposed department is doing. How has their productivity and revenue stream been over the past year or so? How is the turnover? Why is the position you are applying for vacant? If there are three positions available in a 10 person department you really want to know why. If those are 3 new positions, great! The department is growing. If three people have quit within the last month, this is a bad sign. Something is wrong in the department.

    It could be a bad manager. It could be a new manager and the old guard didn’t like the regime change. But, it could be bad things are on the horizon and they wanted to jump ship while there was room on the lifeboat.

    Third, make sure you are good “fit.” Personality counts in business. (Whether it should or not is another post entirely.) A manager that you see eye to eye with is less likely to lay you off.

    Fourth, make sure your position is valued. I have a friend who received an “average” rating at year end. Knowing she had not done average work, she asked her boss for an explanation. “[Your role] isn’t important to the department, so I’ll never rate you above average.” Now, this manager was surely out of line, but that was the reality. You bet that if that manager has to start cutting heads, my friend is the first one out the door.

    Fifth, is there room for growth, advancement, and lateral moves? You want a job with room to grow. If you can’t grow you’ll be plucked before long. It’s a sad truth of business.

    Sixth, does the department offer developmental opportunities? See above. No development? No career future.

    Seventh, can this job be easily outsourced? Some jobs can be. I’m not telling you not to take one, just warning you that it might be. Any job that is strictly transactional is a potential target. IT jobs are particularly vulnerable. A potential solution? Get a job with the vendor. Not saying it’s perfect job security (personally, I think the outsourcing craze will end within the next 10 years), but it’s a thought.

    Hasn’t this been a cheery discussion on job searching? Of course, some times you just need a job and a job now that will last a year and provide you severance is better than no job for the next year. Sometimes, the things you can learn from a company will outweigh the risks. Just know the risks.

    And hopefully, once safely in your new career, you’ll be able to walk by us Evil HR types with confidence-you know that package in my hand isn’t for you.

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    Where to get employees

    by Evil HR Lady on July 30, 2007


    I am Working in an Electronics Security Company as HR Executive. I was in need of new Hirings and tried, Local Consultancies, Newspaper Advertisements, Campus Interviews, Referals and still didn’t get a Quality Staff.

    (My Product is a Construction Magazine that is Market Leader in South and we are the only company who have Operating Authorities in 5 States in North…we need to Market that magazine in North)

    I don’t know anything about your industry (publishing), nor do I know your area, but when traditional means of recruiting fail, you need to look around your office.

    Who are your successful employees? How did they come to work for you?

    Then offer bonuses for employee referrals. Quality employees tend to have quality friends. You say you used referrals, but how much were you willing to pay for a referral?

    You may have to go to an outside recruiter, someone who is focused on your industry.

    Finally, you may have to think outside the box. You say you are a construction magazine? Have you been looking for people who declare themselves as writers? Or are you looking for people who know the industry and can write? In my experience (as a creative writing minor in college) is that people who label themselves as writers first would know squat about construction.

    If you need a construction writer, I bet there are construction blogs. Try contacting one of those people.

    Have you gone to trade fairs? You said you went to colleges. Do the jobs you are recruiting for require a college degree?

    How is your pay and benefits package? If you are below industry standards you’ve either got to hire substandard workers or raise up your packages. If you are at industry standards and you still can’t meet your recruiting goals, try going above, or adding non-cash perks, such as flextime and telecommuting.

    Recruiting is hard. You’ve got a challenge ahead of you. I hope it works out for you.


    A follow up question

    by Evil HR Lady on July 27, 2007

    Hi, HRLady,

    After reading the last entry in your blog, I start wondering what would be your take on my current situation, so here goes a question for you.

    I’m working as a contractor for a 100 Fortune company in the US, while I wait for my greencard process to complete.

    After 4 months in this position, and a few weeks of going back and forth with my superior about my frustration with the way he delegates tasks to me (no clarity of assignments and no provision of the necessary resources to get to the desired result), I decided to resign.

    The only reason I resigned is this direct supervisor, which I think lacks leadership skills (he communicates very poorly his expectations to subordinates and sometimes shows disrespect for them by not letting them know of important changes in a timely manner) and, as already mentioned, doesn’t know how to properly delegate assignments to his team.

    My resignation has been communicated by my supervisor to his bosses, but I’m staying for two more months so I can finish the work I’m doing and offer some guidance to my replacement before I leave. I’m in a senior support position, and because the business partners I serve like my work a lot, other groups in the same company are now trying to recruit me.

    When I am asked by the people interviewing me (inside and outside the same company) why I decided to leave my current position, what should I say? Is it a good answer to say that my supervisor and I had different management styles and I felt I wasn’t a good fit for his needs?

    Your comments will be highly appreciated.

    I believe that interviewing for internal positions is very different than interviewing for external positions. Internally, they already know your work and they know your manager.

    I think in this case a very polite, “Bob and I have different styles,” would be appropriate. I imagine that the people trying to recruit you already know this–please note, they are after you to join their group, not Bob.

    Externally, you’ve got a more difficult row to hoe. 4 months in a position needs explanation. You may have to say the whole “different styles” thing to explain why you left. Especially since you are working towards your greencard. Does quitting this job make it more difficult to get that greencard?

    The problem with leaving a large company after so short a time is that it’s difficult to state convincingly, “there weren’t any promotional opportunities available” because, really, there are. And if you are looking for positions in a similar industry, with a similar size you probably don’t want to give the “I’m looking for a different corporate culture.”

    So, yes, overall I think you will have to mention the differences in style. But you don’t insult your former (current) boss. Don’t do that ever. And hopefully your resume has a longer term job prior to this position so you aren’t branded as a job hopper.

    I bet, though, that you’ll get hired internally and you won’t have to worry about any short positions.

    Good luck!



    by Evil HR Lady on July 26, 2007

    Dear Evil HR Lady,

    In the past, I have been frustrated with the silly, inane, irrelevant, and insulting questions that some of your HR brethren throw at me. It is almost as if interviews are a game to them and I am a performing chimp, wearing a silly hat and riding a unicycle for their amusement.

    How much did you make at your last position? (None of your business.) Why did you leave your last position? (Again, none of your business.) Where do you see yourself in 5 years? (Let me get out my fricking crystal ball…) If you could be any animal, which one would you be? (Ok… I have not really been asked this one. But my response might be, “Your dog…so I could crap on your shoes for asking me such an idiotic question.”) Why do you want to work here? (I need a job and you have an opening.) How do other people describe you? (I don’t know. I usually do not ask my friends to describe me.) What is one weakness of yours? (I have a low tolerance for stupid bullshit questions.)

    Just once I would like to let these interviewers know what I really think of them. The only reason I would ask some of these questions in an interview is to find an independent thinker who would question the relevance of the interview questions. But actually, I would never play games like that because it would be dishonest and disrespectful. The interviewers, on the other hand, have no qualms whatsoever about playing these little mind games. It is hard to psychoanalyze the interviewer and come up with the “right” answer, and I am tired of trying.

    Please give me any insight you may have regarding why interviewers would ask questions like these and possibly how to answer them.

    Thanks for listening and for your advice.

    I’m quite disappointed that I’ve already used my “Bitter? Party of one?” line in another post. This means instead of being sarcastic and a bit rude (one might say, evil), I’m going to have to answer your questions.

    Some interviews are silly, but for the most part, it’s the best way people know how to evaluate a candidate. It’s actually not a very effective way (in my humble opinion) but the other ways are more difficult and (sometimes) cost prohibited.

    But, to get a job, one must interview, and to interview successfully, one must not come across as bitter and angry about the process. Nor should one let on that you think the interviewer’s questions are silly.

    First up, salary. Now, some would disagree with me on this, but the reason I would ask for your salary history is to determine whether or not this job is a possibility for you. If the job I have pays $40,000 a year and you tell me your current salary is $84,000, I know you won’t be interested in going any further. But wait, you say, I want to take a pay cut because I so much want to work for Evil HR Lady! Great. Then say, “I’m looking for jobs in the $35,000-$45,000 range.

    And here’s where the objections come in–ack, you’ve played you hand and now you’re going to lose, lose, lose. Maybe. Feel free to counter the question with one of your own: What does this job pay?

    Why did you leave your last position? This tells me a ton about you. If you go on a rant about how much you hated you boss and how he was a jerk and blah, blah, blah, guess what? You’ve just eliminated yourself from the slate of candidates! You left it for growth or opportunity? Bah, I know this is what everyone says, but fine. I now know that you aren’t stupid enough to boss bash.

    Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Have you even thought about it? What kind of career path do you want? Do you want to head into management or are you comfortable being an individual contributor. How does this particular position play into your future plans? When I’m hiring, I want someone that will be good for the company today and good for the company in 5 years. If I can’t fulfill your 5 year plans in my company, maybe you aren’t a great fit.

    Why do you want to work here? Really, why? Unless you are applying to Burger King, this matters. What is it about [this company] that you want. You better have done your research about the company before you answer this question. (And in the age of the internet, not having at least looked at website is also a career killer.)

    Yes, there may be some psychoanalyzing going on, but basically, we’re just trying to see if you are a fit for the company and the job. We’re not trying to be tricky or mean or demand that you have a crystal ball. We just want to hire the right person.

    We want that right person to be you, so stop being angry and stop being crabby and try to think about the interview from the interviewer’s viewpoint.

    Good luck!


    Times Are a Changing

    by Evil HR Lady on July 26, 2007


    The email id is sure a misnomer..having followed your blog for many months now, I have to admit, it has completely altered my image of the work done by HR professionals. Often enough, we as employees feel that the sole job of the HR department is to make our lives and jobs more difficult (solely my opinion, can be attributed to the places I worked at..). Now, it doesn’t seem the case.

    My question to you is:
    There has been a lot of debate in the web2.0 space about how social media is changing the roles of media and advertising. As I look at it, the social media scenario is also impacting crucial business functions such as HR and Internal Comm. Would you concur with the above statement? Does it impact the roles of these functions and how? In your opinion, are companies geared to handle this change? With sites like Vault that allow employees to check on organisations and a host of other similar sites that allow potential employees to get an inside look before they join, I believe HR would have to reinvent itself.

    I would be grateful for your expert view.

    Well, then, it seems I have failed in my duties—HR’s sole purpose is to create paperwork and barriers to success! Plus, we like to count people by race and gender!

    Sorry, I forgot non-HR people can read this blog. I’d hate to have our secrets get out.

    Social Media and HR? Yeah, it’s made a huge difference. First of all, I’m writing this blog, which lets you in on the inner secrets of HR. (Drat! Now I can’t keep the abysmal failure that is forced distribution performance ratings a secret.)

    Secondly, we have to realize that the world has changed. HR has a reputation for being followers rather than leaders (which is the exact opposite of how HR should be. What does SHRM say? Leading people, leading organizations. We should be in front.)

    So, now we have to create and enforce e-mail policies and internet policies. We have to decide what we’re going to do about employee blogs. Do we restrict what our employees can say about the company? Do we search facebook and myspace and blogger to look at candidates? What if we don’t search, they tell us? If someone says something controversial on a blog do we not hire them?

    And about the information employees now have—salary info is more readily available, reviews about the company, sites like Linked In give you a way to find people who work in the company you are interested—and talk to them before accepting a job.

    These are all questions that a few years ago, no one would know about. Your writings in 1985 stayed private unless you managed to get them published. Even being published didn’t make that knowledge easily accessible. Today? Anybody can start a website and put whatever they darn well please out there. Do we punish employees whose private thoughts are now public? Why? Does HR really want to be the thought police? (Answer: Yes. Just kidding! No, we don’t. I don’t. Really, I don’t.)

    So, yes, I think social networking et al is something that has changed the face of people management and HR should be in front. If we’re leading people we need to make sure we’re not stumbling along at the back of the line, putting in policies only when a crisis arises.


    Carnival of HR #12

    by Evil HR Lady on July 25, 2007

    Is now up over at Ask a Manager.

    I haven’t read it all yet, but so far, I’m still laughing at this post about Ask a Manager reading her employee’s blog. Heh.

    The August 8th Carnival will by hosted by Ann Bares at Compensation Force.

    The August 22nd Carnival will be hosted by Wally Bock at Three Star Leadership.

    The September 5th Carnival will be hosted by Rowan Manahan at Fortify Your Oasis.

    The September 19th Carnival will be hosted by Evil HR Lady at, well, Evil HR Lady.

    The October 3rd Carnival will be hosted by Natalie Cooper at Personnel Today.


    Rate My Boss

    by Evil HR Lady on July 24, 2007

    For the record, I love my boss. I really do. She’s great. And now that I’m done with my regularly scheduled groveling (in case I get outed), let’s talk about your boss.

    I got an e-mail from the founder of eBoss Watch, announcing his new website. (I didn’t want to list his name because who knows if his boss knows? If he contacts me again and approves the use of his name, I’ll include it.)

    My gut reaction? I don’t like it. The theory is you can rate your boss (good or bad) and then people can look up their potential boss to help make a decision.

    The problem is, you don’t know the people doing the ratings and there are tons of reasons for the rating to be biased. Getting a low increase or a bad project doesn’t mean your boss is bad, it may mean you are bad. But, because you don’t know who is doing the rating, you don’t know which one it is.

    I know the rate-my-professor type sites have been around for a while and I don’t like them either. I do training as part of my job and have surveys filled out at the end of each class. Most of the feedback is positive and we implement any good ideas that come through. Once in a while I get a “this class stunk like rotten potatoes” (if you’ve never smelled those, you are lucky).

    Even though the surveys are anonymous (and done electronically, so I can’t even look at handwriting), I have a pretty good idea who wrote the survey. It’s the woman in the back row, who is taking the class only because she’ll get her access to our HRIS cut off if she doesn’t. She has spent most of the class surfing the internet and reading her e-mails. Writing e-mails too. (Do you really think the trainer can’t tell when you are typing during class? We can. We’re just that smart. Plus, she’s the same one that has to ask repeated questions because she wasn’t paying attention in the first place.)

    Those results don’t bother me one bit, because they are placed in context of the other results. The problem with E-boss Watch (and similar sites) is that there is no context. I don’t know the rater, the rater doesn’t know me. I don’t know if the rater just got a raise (and therefore is feeling all warm and fuzzy about his boss) or just got fired (and is bitter and angry).

    I agree that sometimes you can get blindsided by a bad boss, but I think there are two sides to every story. I want both sides–or at least one of the sides to come from someone I trust.


    Carnival Reminder!

    by Evil HR Lady on July 24, 2007

    I’ve been out of town and then I had to spend all day yesterday reading the new Harry Potter, so I forgot to post a reminder!

    This week’s carnival is being hosted at Ask A Manager, so get your submissions into askamanager at gmail dot com.

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